RTB #3 – Pre Performance Rituals

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The environment influences our behaviour. What we do, who we are with and even where we are all influence what we do. Part of retraining the brain is making sure you have the best possible environment in which to do so. A safe environment will result in the positive mental and emotional state necessary for long term behaviour change.

A pre-performance ritual prepares the body and the brain to focus on the task at hand. It helps to decrease anxiety and stress on undertaking an unknown or stressful activity because it helps you believe you can be successful. While many professional athletes and performers understand the value of the pre-performance ritual, anyone can use this technique. The ritual or behaviour initiates the neurological pathways for calmness and  concentration. In other words the behaviour triggers the neurological pathways for emotion and thought processing.

The importance of this technique is not in the ritual itself but in the belief that it will work. Remember the 1987 loonie at centre ice in the 2002 Olympic winter games? That was the year Sidney Crosby shot the puck in the shoot out and we won a gold. The belief in the loonie under the ice resulted in millions of people believing we were going to win gold. It felt good to know we had a secret weapon under the ice and it felt even better after the gold medal game.

Many of us use a pre-performance ritual, we just don’t realize we do until we pay attention to it. We also don’t use it to it’s full advantage until we are cognisant of it. The great thing about it, is that the more you focus on developing one for yourself the better it works.

Over the last 2 years and after trying out a number of different pre-performance rituals, I settled on one that is working for me. Before any class, workshop, presentation or meeting I take a deep breath, paste a smile on my face and say, “Let’s do this!” I no longer get so anxious before a performance that my mind goes blank and I panic because I have forgotten everything.

What do you do for a pre-performance ritual? How do you line up your behaviour, emotions and thoughts for focus and calmness? There are endless possibilities and I would love to know what you do, so drop me a line.


A child struggling with disordered behaviour also struggles with social skills deficits. I did not meet a socially strong child with disordered behaviour in the almost 30 years I worked with these children.

Social media can both help and hinder these issues. The positive or negative results are based solely on how the child interacts with their online connections. Parents often disparage online friends and not being “real” friends and downplay their importance. But ask any teenager or young adult about online friends and they are adamant that their online friends (OLFs) are just as important and in some cases, more important that their real life friends (RLFs). Recent research has shown that interacting with online friends and family has a direct impact on mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and loneliness. It also has the ability to improve social skills by the very nature of the interactions.

There are a number of research articles that theorize the negative outcomes of social media and recently I have heard a number of people express their hatred for it. The most common belief, is that it takes people away from the person proximity zone necessary for beneficial social engagements. Psychologist, Jean Twenge found an increase in teen depression correlated with an increase in technology use. Psychologist, Sherry Turkle found that mobile phones are redefining modern relationships by making us feel “alone together”.

On the other hand there is a growing belief that social media can improve our health and happiness. Sociologist Keith Hampton’s study suggests that people spend more time in public now. It causes us to get out of the house and do more. He also purposes that the cell phones in public are more often used by people to pass the time on their own, rather than ignoring friends. And recent research has shown that the positive and negative associations with social media are based on how one uses social media.

Researchers at US San Diego and Yale, found that simply broadcasting status updates is not enough of an interaction to create any benefit from the use of social media. Only reading about others online is not enough. This can lead to negative social comparisons resulting in decreased self-esteem and mood. A give and take of information needs to happen. Actively interacting with others by sharing messages, posting and comments with close friends and family is linked to improvements in well-being.

At the University of Michigan the researchers found that interacting with people you care about can be beneficial while simply watching others from the sidelines may make a person feel worse. Their experiments showed; only being a passive consumer of information resulted in the participants feeling worse and those who were assigned to posting and talking to friends ended up feeling better and had a more positive outlook.

The common denominator is that every person’s health and happiness relies heavily on the strength of their relationships. The most important of these relationships are the ones we have with family. The interaction through social media is powerful and makes reaching out to others easy. Allow children to connect with others using technology and don’t downplay the importance of these relationships. Because how these children define their OLFs is most likely how they are going to define themselves. How they interact with their OLFs is also how they are internally interacting. The more positive interactions a child has the more confidence they will have and the better able they are to interact with everyone.



RTB by evaluating the words you use. Your vernacular has a direct effect on you and everyone around you because words have incredible power. They have the power to encourage or humiliate, to inspire or to destroy. The words you use broadcast who you are as a person. An insecure person will use their words to tear others down and a confident, secure person will try to make others strong.

Pay attention to the following words and see if you can decrease their use:

  1. I/you ALWAYS ____________. Using definite statements weakens the human condition for happiness. We are constantly evolving. You aren’t the same person you were last year, last month or probably even last week. You or someone else are not ‘always’ anything. Absolutes promote rigidity, control and stagnation. Instead try, “In the past I have _________, now I will ___________.” or “I messed up that time.”
  2. It’s NOTHING. We often use this phrase after a compliment but it implies a rejection of your own positive attributes. By saying “It’s nothing” you are giving the impression that you are nothing. It is important to start accepting the things you are good at. We all have them. Instead say, “thank you” or “I appreciate that”.
  3. That’s not FAIR. I am confident that you have figured out by now that nothing in life is fair. The technique to use when you are on the short end of a stick, is to find what is fair in your life, or what unfair advantage you have. Instead try thinking/saying, “I don’t have that advantage, but I do have ___________”.
  4. In keeping with the unfairness of life words to avoid; If ONLY ___________ then I COULD _________. When you do this you are only looking at the negative aspects of your life. Replace with; “Since I have _________, I can _____________.

Life will knock you down at times – that is also part of the human condition, but the words you use can profoundly affect how much you and others suffer.

Brain Gym is Fraudulent

Posted by: rodgers.cyndy@gmail.com Tags: There is no tags | Categories: behaviour & Learning, Children, For Parents, For teachers


Brain gym is a set of movement activities said to help children learn faster and easier. It claims to help children perform better at sports, increase ability to focus and organize, overcome learning challenges and reach new levels of excellence. It also claims that it is a better alternative to medication in helping with hyperactivity, learning disabilities and even Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

First created in the 1970’s, by 1987 is was being taught in the schools of 80 different countries. It still remains popular amoung educators today because it appears to be based on neuroscience, but it isn’t. In fact it is referred to as Educational Kinesiology and it’s bogus ideas were specifically marketed to schools and clueless educators. To date there is no scientific support that the physical activities associated with it have any learning benefit. While being around for over 30 years without any sound scientific evidence for its claims it has perpetuated common educational practises. It was first debunked in the 1990’s by leading researchers such as Novella (1996), Bruer (2004) and Hyatt (2007).

I recently gave a workshop where I commented on these facts and I was attacked by a couple of the workshop participants, with the excuse that if teachers use it, it must be sound. Decades of proven scientific research has proven it is not, yet it still persists in today’s education paradigm. Parents, teachers and fitness instructors before you spend hundreds of dollars on the training do the research. This program is damaging, dangerous and misleading. If children and families who need help are using it then they are not getting the help they need.


What you do is interconnected with what you think and how you feel. What you think is interconnected  with how you feel and what you do. How a person feels is interconnected with what you do and what you think. I hope you get the idea that you can’t change one without changing the other two. It also means that if you change one of the three you will be changing the other two as well. Look at a smile, as soon as you think of the smile, your brain will be getting ready to tell the muscles around your lips to pull up. If you follow through with actually smiling you will feel better. The opposite is also true. think of the last time you broke something, you probably started thinking how clumsy or stupid you are and you will feel worse. The same goes for behaviour. You can’t change behaviour unless you change how you think and feel. In other words, you need to retrain your neurological functioning (brain) and this requires setting up both an intrinsic and extrinsic environment for yourself that insures success.

Every week I will be posting a technique and/or tip that helps to create the necessary environments for positive and successful change.

Danger Mental Health Diagnosis in Children

Posted by: rodgers.cyndy@gmail.com Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Children, For Parents


If at all possible, avoid labeling a child with a mental health diagnosis. It follows the child into adulthood and can result in major problems for that person. In today’s medical culture it is used to judge a patient as soon as the medical professional reads the file. Often even before they have had a chance to have any interaction with the patient. For example, if a person is diagnosed as bi-polar, any questioning of a diagnosis is labeled as paranoia and any non compliance to the decree of treatment is labeled as depression and/or anxiety. If the patient becomes angry or upset, the medical professional can take legal ownership of the patient never trying to understand why they are angry or upset in the first place. The diagnosis could also be wrong and dysfunctional behaviour in children is resulting in many child being diagnosed with ADHD, when in fact they could be dealing with depression or a catastrophic life event. As human beings we like to categorize people and behaviour into nice tidy labels. But depending on the child’s environment, a developing brain can result in a whole host and range of behaviours that don’t quite fit within an adult checklist of a mental health diagnosis. It’s dangerous, damaging and perfidious.

Behaviour is a child’s biggest communication tool. Instead of trying to fit them into a category that makes the adult feel better try listening, understanding and then help them deal with whatever is happening for them that is creating that behaviour.

Free Book

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I am giving my book away for free over the next 3 weeks in exchange for an honest review. If you are interested in letting me know what you think then click the link.



After 2 years of writing and finding a publisher my book is about to be released. The ebook will be sent out to Amazon, Barns & Noble and 5 other sites around the middle of Nov. 2017 and the paperback will be available at the end of Nov. I am excited and scared because I finally have the courage to speak about the lack of education and help for children who struggle. This needs to change and it starts with a collection of voices. The more we have the stronger we are. Please help me; help parents, educators and children create a happier and healthier life for us all. Join me for the book release party at the end of Nov.

Self Harm

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Self harm is a complex issue and often misunderstood.

On average, 15 to 17 percent of Canadian youth will self injure due to mental anguish.  The most common being; cutting.  Other methods include: burning, hair-pulling, purging, head banging, hitting oneself and ingesting harmful substances.

Adults respond in many different ways which include; empathy, sadness, shock, anxiety and even disgust or judgment. Most of these reactions are detrimental and it is important to understand why, so that you can understand why empathy is the only beneficial  reaction.

Typically these youth feel very intense emotions and have difficulty regulating these  emotions.  Therefore, when they feel intense anger, sadness, or anxiety the young adult  will engage in self-harm as a way to relieve their distress.

Other times, they will engage  in this behaviour in order to combat a sense of numbness, to gain a sense of control, to express anger, to punish themselves, or the elicit attention from others.  This is done because they feel better afterwards, even if only for a short time.  Therefore, it is a coping strategy.

A misconception is that self-injury is a form of suicide.  Those who self-harm are at an increased risk of suicidality because of the intense distress they are feeling. It is important to remember that the majority of those who self-injure are attempting to cope with their pain, and are explicitly not intending to end their life.

The most important thing to remember when you come across this behaviour is to speak to the young adult about their wounds in a calm, respectful way.  Listen to them without shock or judgment.  Encourage them to use their voice rather than their bodies as  self-expression.  Approach this conversation with an open mind, and aim to understand both their distress, and how self injury helps them cope.  While ensuring their safety and  minimizing harm, help them find other coping strategies that will help reduce their  distress.

Legal Precedent Helps Child Abuse Victims

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On March 17th, 2016, Judge Wilson had the wisdom and courage to rule that an abused child does not have to spend time with an abusive parent, even in supervised visits. Wisdom because she understood that supervised visits triggers distressing nightmares and memory disturbances of the abuse they have suffered.  Courage because an abusive parent has never been denied parental access to the children he or she abused.  A big shout out to the lawyer Mary Helms for her fortitude in making sure the right minded people came together to discuss this issue.  To the mental health worker who spoke the truth about how a parenting class will not change abusive behaviour and to the family who were willing to speak the truth about the abuse until someone would listen, your deep strength is inspiring.  I am so proud of the role I played in furthering the cause of protecting children from  abuse and I can’t thank you enough for what each of you was able to do.  Of the 80 percent of children that are not helped by both the institutes of health and education, the justice system has stepped up and because they did the children involved will not be part of that 80 percent.